Oh…There’s more to the strip club story

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As you can imagine, the Strip Club story is the “gift” that keeps on giving. Read this to catch up. Aside from the moral issues posed by the situation (Human Trafficking is a real problem in the America), there were several other issues I had to grapple with. 

One of those was that our company was now known for our Strip club customer acquisition strategy. The reputational and brand impacts were baked in.

Earlier in my tenure, I went to my first tradeshow with the team. We kept getting one recurring question:  “where are the women”? At the time, We had no idea what they meant. We had female team members there with us.

Turns out, the wonderful ladies from the “Flying Flamingo” had been paid in past years to stand at the booth to entice visitors over.

Yep!  Our neighbor at the tradeshow clarified things and thanked us for not using the same tactic this year. I think he was just happy that his booth wasn’t being overlooked anymore by expo participants. 

You can’t make this up folks. 

When the company you run is known for tactics like this, there are many questions that you have to ask that go beyond just “what the did I get myself into” or “How am I going to explain this to Julie” or “Is someone in the neighborhood looking for a good-looking Rookie-Landscaper?”

One major one was, “Should we rebrand?”

Rookie Take: “Under new management”

While we didn’t go into “full rebrand” mode – name change and all, we did take some steps to undo the damage. Why not a full rebrand? 

Mainly because brand equity is fungible and difficult to measure.

The business had operated for 40 years within the industry. Not all of our customers were “Strip Club Mavens”.

I felt the need to be cautious about such a large change to the identity of the business.

So what did we do? A few things.

  1. We upgraded all our marketing collateral with language and new color schemes that emphasized “under new management.”  
  2. We made in person visits to all of our customers re-introducing ourselves and handing out our new marketing collateral.
  3. We took out a very expensive ad in the industry publication introducing the new faces on the team.

As you all know by now, I am no genius. Here’s proof point number 4533. Prior to all of this, I took out an ad with a prominent photo of me with the prior leadership of the company. The emphasis? “Smooth transition”. In hindsight – Not the most prudent move in light of more recent discoveries.

Roominaton

  1. We developed a few questions for our Account Managers to work into conversations with customers.
  2. We let conversations flow in a natural manner rather than lead with the uncomfortable. People were willing to discuss in detail either indicating disgust, ambivalence or shrouded glee. 
  3. We informally analyzed the data to arrive at a working hypothesis of the impact of the practice to the brand.

We manufactured this problem.

Frankly, we created a problem for ourselves by our unwillingness to continue the practice. The prior leadership team was “innovative” by creating inelastic demand for the service. The demand was not based on objective criteria like pricing, quality etc. Wouldn’t we all love those demand inelasticity in our companies?

But not continuing the practice was a no brainer to me. For the obvious reasons and the not so obvious one:

Answering the question from Julie, “so how was your day with “Oh good, had to swing by the flamingo for dinner” just wasn’t an option. She would have flamingo-ed my butt onto the sidewalk!

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